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Today is the last day to register to vote in city elections

Monday, Oct. 4, is the last day for St. Petersburg residents to register to vote in city elections. The election will be held on Nov. 2, and the city will choose either Robert Blackmon or Ken Welch as its new mayor after eight years of the Rick Kriseman administration. In addition to the mayoral race, residents will also choose council members in four districts and vote on seven proposed charter amendments. Citizens can register to vote online or call the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office at (727) 464-VOTE (8683).

Brightline hits milestone for new rail connections in Florida

Brightline, an intercity rail provider based in South Florida, now has its trains in East Orange County, delivering 1,600-foot rails along State Road 528 to build its rail alignment between Cocoa and Orlando. Brightline is planning to build an 85-mile route from Orlando to Tampa. The steel Brightline is using in Orlando comes from Indian-based Steel Dynamics Inc.

Pinellas County announces fresh produce and food giveaway

The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners has partnered with Farm Share and other community organizations to host a free produce and food distribution event. The giveaway will be held on Friday, Oct. 15, in Clearwater. The event begins at 9:00 a.m. in the Juvenile Welfare Board parking lot at 14155 58th St. North. This is a drive-thru event featuring free fruit, vegetables, and other nutritious food. Anyone who needs groceries is welcome, and the giveaway is scheduled to run until 11:00 a.m. or while supplies last.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium CEO steps down due to health concerns

Longtime Clearwater Marine Aquarium CEO Frank Dame will step down from the top role on Nov. 5. Dame has been battling a rare form of blood cancer, called Myelodysplasia Syndromes (MDS), for nearly two years and is expecting a bone marrow transplant, if eligible. “As I face and overcome my health challenges, I will always have CMA, its animals, dedicated employees and mission in my heart,” Dame said in a statement. Dame, who has held various roles at the aquarium for 15 years, recently took on the CEO position following David Yates departure. The news comes on the cusps of the aquarium doing multiple renovations, including adding two new manatee rehabilitation sites, one at their Fred Howard Park facility and the other at the aquarium on Island Estates. CMA’s Board of Directors will lead a nationwide search for the next CEO. In the interim, Dr. James “Buddy” Powell, Executive Director of Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, will serve as President and CEO. Dame will remain as Chairman Emeritus after he steps down and will serve as an ambassador to CMA. 

HOMEE closes $17M round with State Farm, Liberty and others

HOMEE, a Tampa-based startup that delivers a technology platform for connecting insurers and policyholders in the claims process, has closed a $17 million Series B-2 financing. The closing brings the total capital raised for its B rounds to $36 million. The round was led by Morningside and was joined by  Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures, State Farm Ventures, Hartford Investment Management Company (HIMCO), Desjardins and Forte Ventures and Activate Capital. Over the past year, HOMEE has experienced a dramatic increase in claims volume, helping drive record financial results for the first six months of 2021, according to the company's announcement. 

Florida’s minimum wage increases today

Beginning today, Florida’s minimum wage is up from $8.65 to $10 per hour. According to Florida legislative plan, by 2026 it will be $15.

Atlanta firm acquires Tampa-based GCD Insurance Consultants

The Tampa-based GCD Insurance Consultants has been acquired by OneDigital, an insurance brokerage firm in Atlanta. With the acquisition, 20 GCD team members and about 200 customers will transition to OneDigital. The firm’s three principals, Steve Gionis, Rich Caulley and Josh Dillinger, will join OneDigital in adjacent leadership roles. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed. 

City, FDOT identify large road projects in downtown St. Pete

Forward Pinellas, the City of St. Petersburg and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) have identified potential road projects that will improve connectivity and safety in downtown St. Petersburg.   The identified projects include: 

  • Interstate I-175 or I-375 modification, redesign or removal to enhance connectivity throughout downtown and to surrounding neighborhoods
  • 3rd  and 4th Streets: Conversion to two-way roads for a more walkable community, reduce trip lengths and improve access
  • 5th and 4th Avenues: Conversion to two-way roads for more connectivity and to promote safety
  • Dr. MLK Jr Street and 8th Street: Conversion to two-way roads to promote safety and improve access to businesses
The groups are asking the public to weigh in on these potential solutions. Throughout October, there will be one in-person and four online discussions. The in-person meeting will be held Oct. 19 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the student center ballroom at the St. Pete University of South Florida campus.  Those interested can register here

Tampa airport gains nonstop connection to Europe through new airline

Tampa Bay is regaining its connection to Europe in December with the launch of new nonstop service to Frankfurt, Germany. The connection is major news for the travel industry as Tampa lost its international flights due to travel restrictions from the Covid-19 pandemic. The connection to Germany will be through Eurowings Discover, the Lufthansa Group’s new leisure airline, the Tampa International Airport announced. The four-times-per-week service, set to begin Dec. 16, is Eurowings’ first flight to the U.S. Eurowings Discover will offer flights to Tampa on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays year-round. The flights will be approximately nine hours and 10 minutes from Tampa to Frankfurt and 10 hours and 55 minutes from Frankfurt to Tampa. More information on the flights can be found here. 

Rays secure winningest season in history, home-field advantage

The hits keep coming for the Tampa Bay Rays, both literally and figuratively. After beating the Houston Astros 7-0 at Minute Maid Park Wednesday night, the Rays are officially the top team in the American League. Their 98th win of the season also surpassed their previous record of 97, set back in 2008. The win also guarantees the playoffs will start in St. Petersburg, and the Rays will enjoy home-field advantage through at least the first two rounds. This is the third time the Rays have claimed the AL’s No. 1 seed, and they are the first team to do so in consecutive seasons since the 2011-2012 New York Yankees.  

Rays drop plan to advertise split seasons in Montreal

A sign promoting split seasons between the Tampa Bay and Montreal will not adorn a Tropicana Field wall during the playoffs after all. On Tuesday, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg announced his change of heart and issued an apology to fans and the Tampa Bay community. Sternberg announced his plan for the sign on Saturday, and fans voiced their displeasure in the following days. Sternberg said he was wrong to take the focus away from the American League East champion Rays and their pursuit of a second consecutive World Series appearance. The Rays are still exploring a split-season approach to play in St. Petersburg and Montreal when their lease with Tropicana Field expires in 2028.

Tickets for Enchant Christmas on sale Thursday

Tickets go on sale Thursday for the second annual appearance of Enchant Christmas at Tropicana Field in St. Pete. The immersive holiday-season light maze and "Magical Night Sky," which will "emulate the Northern Lights by animating thousands of synchronized lights shimmering and dancing across the stadium dome into a blanketed starry night." Enchanted Christmas will take over the Trop from Nov. 28 to Jan. 2. General admission tickets are available here.

The St. Pete Catalyst

The Catalyst honors its name by aggregating & curating the sparks that propel the St Pete engine.  It is a modern news platform, powered by community sourced content and augmented with directed coverage.  Bring your news, your perspective and your spark to the St Pete Catalyst and take your seat at the table.

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